RDNO must sell need for new arena

EDITORIAL: It appears that Greater Vernon residents will be heading to the polls

It appears that Greater Vernon residents will be heading to the polls.

The Regional District of North Okanagan is proceeding with a process that would see voters in Vernon, Coldstream and the two electoral areas decide this fall if funds — possibly $13 million — should be borrowed to add a second ice sheet to Kal Tire Place.

However, given the fiasco that was last year’s failed water plan referendum, hopefully RDNO staff and politicians are putting together a game plan that gives the arena vote a fighting chance of being successful.

That process must not just include providing basic details such as the financial impact of borrowing on the average tax bill, but why a new arena is required given the current condition of 78-year-old Civic Arena and the ongoing demand for ice time, whether it’s for youth or oldtimers.

The economic development argument will also have to be put forward as hockey tournaments bolster tourism and a twin facility is attractive for trade shows and other special events.

Critical to the referendum will be RDNO bringing together the various user groups who will benefit from a new facility and ensuring that their members and supporters come out in full force on voting day.

Officials admit that putting a borrowing referendum before residents creates some uncertainty, not only because of the water vote but also construction of the sports track which has gone completely over budget.

But despite those two recent cases, there is no reason that an arena referendum can’t be successful if the regional district brings the Greater Vernon community on board.